Can I visit the ship beforehand?
Yes, it's a very good idea. We'd very much like you to visit, spend a night or two aboard, and meet the captain and crew.
What are the wash facilities? Showers?
We have three small heads (marine toilets) and showers, which, surprisingly, are all that we need. Showers can also be under the wash down hose in the warm tropics; if you dry off vigorously, you'll never get that scratchy salt water feeling. Living conditions are simple. Bunks and storage are ample compared to other ships, but small compared to your house.
Will I need visas? Immunizations?
For most countries you will not need a visa beforehand. We obtain visas when the ship clears in. You will need certain shots, and we'll provide you with a list. A current passport is a must.
How can I communicate with friends and family at home?
Writing, e-mailing, and calling from major ports and emergency e-mail or radio contact with the ship. You'll get details before we sail.
What type of activities and physical exercise can I do to prepare myself?
It's time to get active now. Chin-ups and push-ups are a good beginning.
What reading can I do to prepare myself for the trip?
The Last Grain Race, by Eric Newby or any of the books on the Yankee by Captain Irving and Exy Johnson are good ones to start with. We can send you a reading list.
What's the difference between me and the professional crew?
Hopefully, in due course it will seem as if there is little difference, but they have the skills and experience to lead you into shipboard life and guide you in the complexities of square-rig seafaring.
How much time off in port will we have?
The needs of the ship come first. So depending on the nature of the harbor or anchorage, for every duty day on board, you can expect from two to five days free. This is primarily a sailing ship voyage, and about one third of our time will be in port.
What's the longest passage at sea?
The longest will be the run from Cape Town across the South Atlantic—about 5,000 miles, with a stop at St. Helena.
Does the ship carry cargo?
In our hold, we'll carry supplies to the islands—building materials, cement in bags, lumber, and tools, as well as charitable items such as books and school supplies—and we'll be picking up exotic goods along the way.
How are medical emergencies dealt with at sea?
We have a trained medical officer in the crew, a large medical kit, and we are patched in with global radio and satellite access marine medical services.
Are women physically strong enough for this type of sailing?
Yes, as a rule they are. However, balance is more important than upper body strength, and one's strength tends to build during the course of a voyage.
What equipment, clothing, etc., do I need to bring along?
Less than you'd think. You can read about what you will likely need to prepare for the voyage and we will send you a detailed list once you sign-on.
Can I bring my cat?
No, nor your parakeet.
Can I bring my trombone?
Yes, as long as it fits in your bunk.
What's the drug policy on board?
Any and all involvement in any illegal activity on board or ashore can result in dismissal from the ship and possible criminal prosecution. Also, being sent home at your expense without any further recompense is a likelihood.
How much spending money will I need for the entire voyage?
It doesn't seem to make much difference, but between $2,000 and $8,000 is plenty. Those with less available cash often have the most interesting cultural experiences ashore.
How much experience to I need to be crew in the Picton Castle?
You need no previous experience, only a good attitude.
Will I be "real" crew as a trainee?
Yes. You will stand watch at sea and in port. Under the guidance of the officers of the Picton Castle you will be the crew that sails this ship around the world.
What will I get a chance to learn?
The ship requires that you achieve the skills of an ordinary seaman as soon as possible. Those include good sail handling, steering, and watch-keeping skills. In addition you will have the opportunity to pursue rigging, sailmaking, small boat handling, chart work, celestial navigation, as well as a broad general seamanship… and much else, besides.
Do I get to go aloft in the rigging?
Yes, but it's not required of all hands. The ship can afford a number who don't go aloft. But most of us want to work aloft. That's one of the benefits of square-rig sailing.
What level of physical fitness is required?
Average good physical fitness is all that is needed. You don't need to be muscle bound.
What about special diets?
It depends on how special. We can accommodate a non-meat diet pretty easily. Rarified or unique diets may not be practical. We eat well, but toward the end of the long 4- or 5-week passage we can expect to run out of fresh food. This makes getting into port even more delicious.
What will my shipmates be like?
Many will be just out of university or high school. Others will be of all ages and backgrounds and from a variety of countries. All will become explorers and seafarers.
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